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Grassley-Leahy Bill Would Make EB-5 “An Unusable Program” – Investment Migration People in the News This Week

Investment migration people in the news this week include:

  • Angelique Brunner of EB5 Capital
  • Dominic Volek of Henley & Partners
  • Nicholas Keong of Knight Frank Singapore
  • Mark Harris and Tammy Fahmi of Sotheby’s International Realty
  • David Lesperance of Lesperance & Associates
  • Jean-Francois Harvey and Polly Ho of Harvey Law Group
  • Georg Chmiel of Juwai IQI
  • Arthur Sarkisian of Astons

WSJ: Cash-for-Visa Program Looks to Be in Jeopardy

Other developers say the program has been essentially unusable since a federal rule in 2019 raised the minimum investment amount to $900,000 and took away the ability of states to gerrymander designated high-unemployment areas to make favored real-estate projects eligible. They want to reverse some of the changes and raise the annual limit on the number of new EB-5 visas.

“The Grassley-Leahy bill would unfortunately create an unusable program,” said Angelique Brunner, CEO of the Bethesda, Md.-based commercial real-estate investment firm EB5 Capital. “It would be as detrimental as the current form of the regulations, if not worse.” She said she had been unable to raise EB-5 capital and hasn’t started a new project since the 2019 rule went into effect.

Singapore Tatler: Why New Zealand Is Becoming A Hot Property Investment Destination

New Zealand and Australia have been appealing to European investors given their much smaller population and tighter border control, says Dominic Volek, group head of private clients of Henley & Partners.

“Where someone chooses to migrate to can depend on a number of factors, and our recent research, which ranks countries that host residence- and citizenship-by-investment programs, found that those with the capacity to provide access to health security ranked high,” he says. New Zealand, along with Australia, were ranked highest in terms of health management and risk readiness.

“New Zealand’s handling of the pandemic, its rapid economic recovery, low-interest rate environment, limited supply of quality stock and sustained lack of travel, coupled with an increase in number of Kiwis living abroad returning home, has underpinned demand for residential property,” says Nicholas Keong, head of residential international project marketing at Knight Frank Singapore.

So much so that, that its government had to initiate stricter real estate laws against overseas investors to avoid an asset bubble. This includes recent add-on policies of cutting off tax incentives for overseas investors and unlocking more land to increase housing supply. “It is virtually impossible now for investors from the UK, US or China, among others, to buy residential property in New Zealand,” says Mark Harris, co-founder and managing director of New Zealand Sotheby’s International Realty.


“At the moment, there is a flow of return capital from New Zealanders living overseas, as well as selective interest from HNW (high-nett-worth) individuals attracted to New Zealand’s amazing beauty and lifestyle,” says Tammy Fahmi, vice president of global operations and international servicing at Sotheby’s International Realty.

The Street: Cryptocurrency Price Check: Musk Tweet Sparks Price Rise

David Lesperance, managing partner of Lesperance & Associates, said that with “Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies exploding in value and the public’s awareness, it was not surprising that the [Internal Revenue Service] launched Operation Hidden Treasure,” the agency’s effort to root out tax evasion among cryptocurrency users.

“Those with undisclosed crypto holdings then separated into two camps,” Lesperance said. 

“The first camp was those who recognized that they needed to get their fiscal house in order BEFORE the IRS (or other tax authorities) came knocking.”

The second camp, he added “clung to the mistaken mythology that crypto was the perfect tax haven and they had nothing to worry about.”

“That delusion blew away like the morning mist when the US government disclosed that they had tracked and seized the crypto involved in a recent ransomware attack,” he said.

Apple Daily: Migration clients at Hong Kong law firm triple in two years as young families ship out

Hongkongers’ desire to move abroad had been rising since 2019, Harvey Law Group partner Jean-François Harvey said.

The group had observed three recent waves of migration, which were noticeable after citywide mass protests in 2019, amid the pandemic and following the enactment of national security laws in 2020, Harvey said.

Canada’s Start-up Visa Program, the United Kingdom’s British National (Overseas) visa route and the Australia Significant Investor Visa 188C were the most popular among the Hong Kong clients, he said.

Their new customers tended to be families in which the parents were in their 40s and the children were under 10, he said.

Canada launched a lifeboat program for Hongkongers early this month that allowed them to apply for a three-year open work permit. Last week, the country added two permanent residency pathways for Hongkongers who were fresh graduates in Canada or had Canadian work experience.

Polly Ho, a registered foreign lawyer under the Harvey group, said Hongkongers could use the open work permit to look for jobs within three years and capitalize on the new routes to obtain permanent residency more quickly.

Business Insider: The disappearance of international students has helped slash inner-city rents and asking prices. Some investors are betting big on a resurgence.

With the country’s international border still largely shut, the lack of international students on campuses is taking a bite out of segments of the property market typically in hot demand.

While prices have shot higher across the country and its capital cities, the lack of demand for inner-city apartments has cut asking prices in Sydney’s inner west by 9.8%, and in Melbourne’s CBD by 8.1%, according to new data from Asian real estate platform Juwai IQI.

“It is disastrous for investors who purchased at the high prices of the last couple of years,” executive chairman Georg Chmiel said, noting Juwai was advising clients to hold on for now, knowing there “would be more pain before gain”.

“These assets have depressed values now, so it’s a poor time to sell. They are likely to gain value again relatively quickly as the student population rebuilds after travel restarts. This is a good market for investors who are brave enough to buy while prices are down.”

Property Reporter: Which London boroughs are driving property sales during the pandemic?

Arthur Sarkisian, Managing Director of Astons, commented: “Despite a slower rate of house price growth when compared to the rest of the UK, it’s fair to say that the London property market has held its own with billions of pounds worth of property changing hands despite the pandemic.

“Of course, it will come as little surprise that prime central London continues to account for some of the highest sums of property sold, but there is certainly a Covid influence that is presenting a slightly different landscape to what we might expect.

“London’s outer boroughs have become very popular and I don’t think anyone could have predicted that Croydon would rank as one of the most valuable areas of the London market. At the same time, demand and sold prices across the City of London have all but dried up and Newham is no longer riding the wave that came as a result of Olympic regeneration in the borough.”

The post Grassley-Leahy Bill Would Make EB-5 “An Unusable Program” – Investment Migration People in the News This Week appeared first on Investment Migration Insider.

Singapore Investment & Immigration Report – From Juwai IQI, in Partnership with IMI

Consistently ranking as one of the world’s richest, safest, and most developed countries, Singapore has a global magnet for both investments and highly qualified immigrants. This new report, produced by Juwai IQI in cooperation with IMI, details the various immigration routes available to investors, entrepreneurs, and talented individuals.

The report further explores an array of investment asset classes on offer in the Lion City, with an emphasis on real estate, for which an exhaustive analysis of the property market, taxes, yields, price developments, and locations are included.

Additional coverage is devoted to helping prospective investors understand how the pandemic has influenced the property market in Singapore and the country’s economic trajectory.

You can find further information about the report, which is entirely free for IMI Club Members, below. If you’re not already an IMI Club member, you can easily sign up here.

Singapore Investment & Immigration Report 2020

Juwai IQI, Asia’s biggest prop-tech group, has partnered with IMI Research to produce a special report on immigrating to and investing in Singapore.

What’s in the report

  • The “Switzerland of Europe”
    • Reasons for Singapore’s continuous need for immigrants;
    • Highly targeted immigration strategies;
    • Global Investor Program (GIP)
    • Entrepass
    • Foreign workforce numbers
    • Future of immigration to the “Little Red Dot”
  • 2021 Singapore real estate investment guide
    • How to buy in Singapore;
    • Critical steps in the buying process;
    • Taxes and fees;
    • Resident tax rates;
  • Q&A with market experts
    • Impacts of the coronavirus on the housing market;
    • Rental yields;
    • Challenges and opportunities after the pandemic;
    • Transaction volume and price range of foreign buyers
  • Winds of change: Migration plans based on tax planning and wealth inheritance

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Thai Elite Visa to Be Included With Condo-Purchases of US$330,000 or More From January

Starting in January and lasting until the end of 2022, foreigners will be able to obtain a Thai Elite visa by purchasing move-in ready (not under construction) units in designated property developments for THB 10 million or more. The new membership level, named “Flex One”, which was reportedly approved in November, aims to quickly inject capital into the country’s property development sector, which has been struggling with lower-than-budgeted sales in 2020 due to the pandemic.

“Developers have a lack of cash flow, some have high debt and the new program will help them not lay off staff,” the president of Thai Privilege Card Company, Somchai Soongswang, told Nikkei Asian Review. He also pointed out that the decision to restrict eligibility to ready-to-transfer units was intended to absorb the current oversupply of units and quickly improving the cash-flow situation. In November, the Thai Real Estate Association warned that thousands of property company jobs would be at risk in Q4 in the absence of government intervention.

How it will work in practice
The large, Thai property developers enrolled in the scheme (so far, at least four of the country’s biggest developers have signed up) will buy the THB500,000 Elite Easy Access memberships (this membership’s price will rise to THB600,000 from January) and bundle them together with real estate units that it offers for sale to prospective investors. As long as they invest at least THB 10 million, investors can choose to buy one or several units but, crucially, only from one developer per card.

Should the investor wish to upgrade from the Elite Easy Access included in their property purchase (for example to enable a longer stay), they would only need to pay the difference in price between the Elite Easy Access they received through property investment and the higher-level membership.

The Thai Elite program will now have nine different packages and more than 11,000 active members, 2,674 signed up during the fiscal year that ended in September, a record-number.

“Unlikely to have much success until normal travel is possible”
Reacting to the news, the head of Asia’s largest online real estate sales platform appeared bullish on the program’s prospects.

“For the applicant, it’s appealing because your money is going into an asset that can earn returns and you can sell again later,” said Georg Chmiel, Executive Chairman of Juwai IQI. “You can also live in the property. The other Thai Elite visas all require payments to the government that you never get back.”

Chmiel said the move amounted to throwing “a lifeline to developers who are drowning in unsold units due to the pandemic” and indicated that, in the medium-term, he remained bullish on the Thai property market.

“Thailand is an even more attractive place to live as a result of its excellent handling of COVID-19. Economic growth is likely to bounce back at very high rates after travel and trade recover. The outlook for the property market is good. Despite a surplus of stock now, many planned projects have been put on hold, so that the future pipeline of new supply is more limited than in recent years. That will tend to support prices.”

He tempered his optimism, however, by pointing out that we should not expect too much from the new policy as long as border-restrictions remain in place.

“Until normal travel is possible, it is unlikely this visa will have much success, except with foreigners already living in Thailand who wish to extend their stay and see an opportunity to obtain a pandemic bargain on real estate.”

What does THB 10 million buy you in the Thai real estate market? Right now, a move-in-ready two-bed, two-bath condo in central Bangkok or a 250 sq.m. house in the suburbs.

Henley & Partners, the program’s concessionaire since 2017, could not be reached for comment today.

More Policy Updates

While welcoming the new scheme, market observers expect it to have only limited success until travel restrictions are removed.

If passed, the bill would see EB-5 wait times for applicants filing today equalized to more than eight years, regardless of country of origin.

Dominica’s new entrepreneurship visa, which offers a path to citizenship in two years for US$50,000, finally has a launch date (of sorts).


Our readers are the best-informed professionals in the investment migration industry.
Once a week, we’ll send you a curated newsletter with the week’s top stories.

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